the beautiful monster : follow up


In the last day, Rescue Missions for the missing climbers on Mt. Hood have ceased and any further efforts will be now deemed a recovery mission. Most likely, no more evidence or clues or bodies will be found until the spring thaw. Since tuesday, when I made my last post, there has been more press and more debate on the climbers, their timeline, what may have happened, and also the whole rescue beacon debate (which will always rage).

Here is a follow up gathered from local news sources:


(based on

Friday, Dec. 11, 2009

1 a.m. Anthony Vietti, Katie Nolan and Luke Gullberg register at Timberline Lodge intending to summit Mt. Hood via the Reid Glacier route. The trio had an active cell phone

1:30 a.m. One of the climbers activates the cell phone, most likely while still in the lodge's vicinity

2 p.m. The climbers expected to be back at Timberline having completed their 13-hour summit

4 p.m. A worried friend reports the climbers missing

Late evening: A threatening weather system begins moving into NW Oregon

Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009

Early morning: Clackamas County coordinates 30 volunteers to search for climbers

10 a.m. The body of Luke Gullberg was found on the Reid Glacier above 9,000-feet elevation, near the base of a headwall. Searchers find a camera with close-up photos of all three climbers.

Family of climbers arrive, along with chaplains from Sandy and nearby communities

3 p.m. Volunteers continue the search; weather conditions become treacherous with limited visibility, preventing aerial support from helicopters or planes

Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009

Severe weather conditions across NW Oregon create zero-visibility, blizzard conditions on Mt. Hood and the threat of avalanches and falling ice prevents Search and Rescue efforts.

Churches and congregations across the country offer prayers and support for the three climbers, who were deeply religious and had met during church activities

Monday, Dec. 14, 2009

5:30 a.m. Search and rescue efforts begin with aerial surveillance from Civil Air Patrol, Oregon Army National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard. A NWS meteorologist arrives and identifies a four-hour window for optimal searching, between noon and 4 p.m.

10 a.m. A press conference with the Search and Rescue coordinators and the family of Anthony Vietti

Lead Rescue coordinator narrows the search to the 10,000-foot-to-summit elevations of Mt. Hood's western face

12 p.m. Conditions clear enough for US Air Force Rescue Squadron to begin scaling upper reaches of Mt. Hood

3 p.m. State medical examiners determine Luke Gullberg died from hypothermia and had suffered minor "non-life-threatening" injuries in a fall

3:30 p.m. Another weather system moves in and forecasters predict 18 inches of new snow. Aerial search suspended.

5:00 p.m. Vigils held from Portland to Longview, Wash. by friends, coworkers and acquaintances of the three climbers.

6:30 p.m. Search effort suspended for day. Experts predict that the two climbers could remain safe in a snow cave for five days with provisions and without injury

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009

5:30 a.m. Blizzard-like conditions and a "white wall of snow" delay search efforts

Military arrives with aerial support and ground squadrons canvassing mountain

Coordinators say the moment weather lets up all rescuers will be "instantly deployed"

10 a.m. Search and Rescue specialized medic arrives to speak with family about survivability scenarios

11 a.m. Coordinators reassure family that operation remains "search and rescue" and not "recovery"

4 p.m. Dr. Teri Schmidt, a search and rescue special medic, said the odds of finding Nolan or Vietti alive after five days on the mountain were about 1 percent.

4:30 p.m. Investigators reveal that Gullberg may have died while trying to rescue Nolan. Search and rescue effort suspended until early Wednesday, when Blackhawk helicopters were scheduled to resume efforts.

Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

2 p.m. The massive search for Katie Nolan and Anthony Vietti was suspended. Clackamas County Sheriff's Office said rescue efforts would transition to a recovery mission once the harsh weather abated atop Mount Hood.

Katie's father, David Nolan, said his daughter was now buried upon the mountain she most loved - where she'd told her friends she someday wanted to be buried.

Anthony's father, John Vietti, asked those who had offered support and prayers to not lose faith in God. "God has answered our prayers - and for myself and my family this has not shaken our faith."

What the conditions were like last Friday on Mt. Hood:

What is determined that happened:

"Crews had hoped for a break in the weather Wednesday for one last possible air search over Mt. Hood but the storm never abated. A series of snowstorms dumped nearly two feet of snow on Mt. Hood since Monday. Images from the cell phone of the third climber, 26-year-old Luke Gullberg, whose body was found Friday, revealed that all three climbers reached Reid Glacier, and suggest that there was an accident involving Nolan. Investigators believe Gullberg then tried to rappel to get help.

Investigators suspect Nolan was injured because mountaineers found just one of her gloves Saturday with the body of Gullberg at the base of the Reid headwall. The slope rises at a 50-degree angle from the glacier to within a few hundred feet of relatively easier climb to the top above 11,000 feet. They found neither of Gullberg's gloves, Thompson said, leading them to think that Nolan had lost one of hers in the accident, that Gullberg had left her his glove, along with his pack, and that he had headed downhill, taking Nolan's single glove for whatever warmth it would provide. After a fall in which he suffered bruises and scrapes, Gullberg died of exposure. His body was found at the 9,000 foot level, at the base of the 1,500-foot headwall of the Reid Glacier. Nearby were tracks and some of his equipment, including a camera whose pictures gave rescue workers information about the route and equipment the climbers took."

As well, more news about the climbers and their short, but full lives:

An interview with one of Katie's clients she helped get off the streets:

The Mazamas explain the appeal of climbing Mt. Hood in the winter:

Why Portland Mountain Rescue opposes mandatory beacon usage:

closure and full report from local media:

In summary, I will close with this comment that Katie's father made regarding her and the incident. When I heard it on the raw video footage, it really hit a vein with me as I've shared that exact thought. I am sure that Katie and the two others climbers, when assessing their risk before setting out for their climb thought the same thing to themselves as I do when I set out... that, if today were to be the day when it all ends for me... that I can't think of a better place or a better way to end it. I can't say that she was lucky, but is really is quite fitting that she was able to have a poetic ending as such.

"Katie loved the mountain so much she wanted to be buried up there. And right now she is," said Nolan


Comments (0)

+ 0
+ 2